Skip to content

Southern Red-breasted Plover

Charadrius obscurus


The Southern Red-breasted Plover is the largest member of its genus at 25cm tall. Its sandy colour camouflages it against the beach and sand dunes of its habitat.

The Southern Red-breasted Plover is also known as the New Zealand Dotterel and is endemic to New Zealand.

This species has become extinct in much of its range and now only occurs on Stewart Island. In the early 1990s, this species recovered from a low of 62 individuals, but since 2012 a rapid population decline has occurred and the population is very small again. The main cause of decline is from introduced predators such as stoats, feral cats and rats. Males are particularly vulnerable to predation as they incubate their eggs at night during the breeding season, thus making them easy prey for predators. This led to an extreme gender bias in the 1990s, resulting in lots of female-female pairs. This gender bias appears to have re-appeared since the recent declines. Another major threat to this species is native avian predators when they occur in high population numbers.

On Stewart Island, the only breeding site of this bird, cats and rodents are intensively controlled to protect the breeding birds and their offspring.

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Charadriidae
  • Population: 120
  • Trend: increasing
  • Size: 25cm
  • Weight: 130-170g

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.37 (?)
ED Score: 12.46 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is endemic to New Zealand. It formerly occurred on the South Island, but now only occurs on Steward Island.

Habitat and Ecology

This species breeds inland at high altitudes on bare hilltops and open grasslands and they lay three eggs. During the non-breeding season, they move to the coast where they forage on inter-tidal mudflats and beaches. They mostly feed on invertebrates. They can live to up to 30 years old.

Find out more